UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 93 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 4 February 1997)
# Zairean military sources told Reuters that Allied Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) rebels had captured the town of Kalemie, 400 km south of Goma, on Monday. Kalemie is a major port on Lake Tanganyika and is the railhead into Kabalo that intersects with the Lubumbashi /Kindu line. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that the loss of Kalemie to ADFL rebels could block humanitarian aid being sent via the Lubumbashi /Kindu rail link, further complicating an already difficult logistical operation. According to Reuters, ADFL rebels appear to be moving south towards Moba, 150 km from Kalemie, the last major Zairean port on Lake Tanganyika not already in rebel hands. Both towns are in the mineral rich province of Shaba, Kabila's birth place. Military sources told Reuters that the rebels had captured large amounts of military equipment in Kalemie. They also confirmed that Watsa, in Upper Zaire 500 km north of Goma, had fallen and Lubutu, 240 km from Kisangani near the Tingi-Tingi refugee site, was being surrounded by rebels.
Despite the increase in fighting leading to the fall of Kalemie, IFRC reported no increase in refugee arrivals to Kigoma, across Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. Arrivals, mainly of Zairean refugees have been continuing at between 800 and 1,500 per day for most of January, and the total refugee population in and around around Kigoma town, according to IFRC is 40,000. All the Zairean refugees are being moved to a new site at Lagufu, which has a capacity of 50,000.
In a continued effort to restore order to the FAZ, scores of soldiers have been arrested and charged with looting and desertion. A group of 150, including a few civilians, were disarmed on 28 January by SARM in Bumba, Equateur province, and flown to Kinshasa to face trial by a special tribunal, said Reuters.
Despite the internal clean-up, the Zairean counter-offensive, led by chief-of-staff General Mahele Lioko Bokungu, is still hampered by a lack of adequate financial and logistical support. Analysts question Mobutu's commitment to regaining the east. A victory over the ADFL rebels following reorganization of the military, they say, would make General Mahele too powerful a force; one capable of supplanting Mobutu's traditional control over the army.
Opposition forces in Zaire are also hindering the war effort with appeals to Morocco, Togo and Egypt -- all of which have strong ties with France -- not to assist Zaire with troops to fight the rebels, said AFP.
# Insecurity in the Watsa area has forced Sudanese refugees, who have been in Dungu 160 km north of Watsa since 1991, to flee back to Sudan. Some 2,000 have already arrived in three camps southwest of Meridi, western Equatoria. WFP, who has a permanent team based in Meridi, told IRIN that it has provided a 26-day ration for the returnees and NGOs have provided non-food assistance. An Operation Lifeline Sudan news release today said the returnees began trickling back in early January, but to date there is no clear indication of how many of the former refugees will return. The original 1991 refugee population, which fled insecurity in southern Sudan was estimated between 30-40,000. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that the refugees reported fleeing from raping and looting FAZ soldiers. It is unclear whether this is a new development resulting from the current fighting around Watsa or if the refugees were fleeing the previous FAZ looting spree following the fall of Bunia. Moving from one conflict zone to another, the returnees have arrived in Sudan amid a renewed Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) offensive in that area.
# Following EU commissioner Emma Bonino's criticism of the international community's response to the plight of some 400,000 Rwandan refugees in eastern Zaire, Rwanda's UN envoy, Gideon Kayinamura, on Monday said that the remaining refugees were composed of 40,000 ex-FAR and their families. "We know that the bona fide refugees have walked back home, the (ex-FAR) soldiers walked into the forest with their arms to join the Zairean army. These are the ones the humanitarian agencies say need assistance," ambassador Kayinamura told a news conference in New York. "We are saying that it is not appropriate for the humanitarian bodies to extend refugee status to a criminal army that is inside Zaire, and that is holding a few Rwandan refugees as their own hostages, including their own families," he said.
Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andre Querton told AFP that Belgium would appeal to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday to "reactivate an international presence to provide humanitarian aid " to the refugees. The previous Multinational Force lead by Canada barely got off the ground when it was terminated following the propitious mass return of refugees to Rwanda. Querton told AFP that Belgium supported Kengo wa Dondo's government, whose proposed July elections offered a "democratic perspective", unlike its counterparts in Rwanda and Burundi.
Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on Monday added her voice to the call for an international police or military force to separate extremists from bona-fide refugees in situations such as those in eastern Zaire. She said the force could be used to prevent Hutu extremists from gaining a foothold in the camps and preventing people from returning home. Humanitarian workers told IRIN that the organizational structure of the camps and statements from refugees indicated that elements of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe were already in control of the camps. Analysts are not confident that an international force would be willing or able to identify and neutralize the extreme Hutu elements in the camp any more than they were able to due so in Goma and Bukavu where conditions were more favourable. Humanitarian sources also question the political feasibility of disarming refugees who are clearing fighting alongside FAZ forces.
Humanitarian sources told IRIN that the crucial issues facing humanitarian operations in eastern Zaire have not been addressed. No international call has yet gone out to the Zairean government, insisting on the relocation of the Amisi refugees to a safe haven away from the front-line, preferably to a location more logistically accessible to humanitarian operations. The source said that the continued detainment of innocent refugees in Amisi was "criminal" and that continued assistance increased the risk that both humanitarian aid and logistical equipment, trucks and plans, could be diverted to the war effort.
Ogata begins a tour of the Great Lakes region, including Kenya, on Thursday. AFP quoted Ogata saying she was "very worried and disappointed" that information emerging daily on the plight of the refugees does "not seem to be have been absorbed very much by the international community."
# Former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, in his role as mediator, held talks in Arusha Tanzania on Monday with Burundian military leader Pierre Buyoya, the secretary-general of the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) Salim Ahmed Salim, the special US envoy, Howard Wolpe, the UN representative in Bujumbura, Marc Faguy, and a representative of South African President Nelson Mandela to seek ways out of the deadlock, said AFP. He warned, "So far we haven't made any progress. I am beginning to feel that I am providing an umbrella for the killings." Nyerere said he favoured maintaining economic sanctions against Burundi, which were imposed following the July 1996 coup. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that exemptions to the sanctions for humanitarian operations were becoming increasingly more "bureaucratic". For supplies delivered by road from Kenya, agencies are now required to negotiate individual exemptions with the Kenyan National Sanctions committee as well as that of Tanzania. The sanctions were intended to force the Tutsi regime to "restore constitutional order" and open negotiations with the Hutu rebels. Their effectiveness, given a reportedly flourishing and lucrative black market trade, is a matter of debate.
The government-organized four-day forum on restoring peace to Burundi ended 31 January with many of the 60, mainly Tutsi, delegates divided on how to stop the civil war. Jan van Eck, an expert on conflict resolution said that "There was a substantive shift in favour of negotiations," where "several months ago you couldn't even speak about negotiations." Hutu parties boycotted the debate and Hutu rebels were banned from participating in the national forum unless they declared a cease-fire.
Referring to the recent national forum, former president Nyerere was not so optimistic saying he and "many in Burundi, did not consider the conditions were right for holding a national debate in Burundi," largely because of the high degree of insecurity in the country, said AFP. "Conditions are worse than they were last July," he said. "The killings are going on."
Burundi will proceed with the trial of 80 people accused of participating in massacres following the 1993 abortive coup by elements of the Tutsi military against the first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye. The assassination sparked mass killings around Burundi. At present, only 13 of the suspects are being held for trial while others remain free.
Some 2,250 Burundian male students headed for military training camps following last month's decree that military service would be compulsory for first year university students, most of whom are of Tutsi ethnicity. Female conscripts are expected to leave for military camps next week. This marks a change for the Burundian army which until recently has been composed only of professional soldiers, said AFP. University dean Gilbert Midende announced the introduction of compulsory "civil and technical" service for some 3,000 first and second year students.
# The Kenyan 'Daily Nation' reported that the Ugandan military had rescued more than 200 civilians allegedly taken captive by the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in a series of battles in the Rwenzori mountains over the last few weeks. Security officials claimed that more than 1,000 people have been taken hostage since mid-November 1996. Zairean support for the ADF rebels has been a source of contention and justification for a Ugandan military incursion into Zairean territory.
The state-owned Sunday Vision paper, quoting the Ugandan minister of state for defence, Amama Mbabazi, said that Uganda would not attack the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels' base in Sudan. "This government respects international borders and therefore we are not planning any such action," however, "if they choose to invade us, we'll be able to show them it was not the best option."
# The HRFOR has recently released a report criticizing aspects of the genocide trials in Rwanda, stating that in trials held between 8 and 20 January there was a lack of fair-trial guarantees as required by Rwandan law and Article 14 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Rwanda is a party. The report follows HRFOR monitoring of court proceedings for 13 persons being tried in Byumba, Butare, Gisenyi and Kigali Ville prefectures, proceedings which resulted in seven persons being tried, convicted and sentenced to death and six persons having their trials adjourned.
The HRFOR report cites cases in which defendants were not allowed lawyers to defend them, were unable to respond to allegations against them and were not able to cross-examine evidence. In once case, a defendant charged with genocide was asked if he had a lawyer. When a lawyer offered to defend the accused this was disallowed by the presiding judge as the lawyer did not have authorization from the Ministry of Justice to represent that particular defendant. When the defendant requested an adjournment so he could find a lawyer this was not granted. In the final event, the defendant was sentenced to death without having been given the opportunity to defend himself and without witnesses having been called, either for the prosecution or the defence.
The HRFOR report urges the Rwandan authorities to ensure that `essential rights', including the right of civil claimants to legal counsel, are safeguarded during the trials. The HRFOR also expressed the hope that the Government of Rwanda will soon act on a proposal submitted by the Rwandan and Foreign Lawyer's' Initiative, supported by HRFOR, to train Rwandan and foreign legal counsel to represent defendants in each prefecture.
# HRFOR also reported that during December four people were extrajudicially executed by the Rwandese Patriotic Army in two separate incidents. On 10 December, three murder suspects were killed by RPA soldiers during a public meeting in Mbuye sector, Satinsyi commune, in Gisenyi prefecture. The three were accused of killing a local businessman on 4 December. On 21 December, a recent returnee from Zaire who was suspected of murder was executed in a public meeting by RPA soldiers near Ndago, Mubuga commune, in Gikongoro prefecture. He had been accused of killing a genocide survivor and three other persons on 11 December. HRFOR reports that when it raised these incidents with the Ministry of Defence they stated that the events were regrettable and that orders had been given not to carry out such executions. HRFOR has requested the authorities to investigate the incidents and carry out appropriate disciplinary measures against those found guilty of violations.
# WFP issued a statement dated 29 January, that northern Uganda and other parts of the country could soon face food shortages if the current conflict is not resolved. A WFP needs assessment mission to the northern district confirmed that some 200,000 persons had been displaced by renewed fighting between government and rebel factions. Although many of the displaced risk returning to insecure areas in order to salvage food from their farms, the small reserves remaining will likely be consumed by the end of February, rendering the displaced totally dependent on food aid. Unless there is an early resolution to the conflict before the next planting season, the July harvest will be lost and "full-scale famine will ensue", WFP claims. This will further complicate the region's food supply situation, already diminished due to drought conditions in Kenya and parts of Tanzania.
Nairobi, 4 February 1997, 15:00 gmt [ENDS]
[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: email@example.com for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 18:11:46 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 93 for 4 Feb 1997 97.2.4 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970204175433.8729Yemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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